There’s a somewhat common fairytale trope involving a creepy idea: One character wants another character to fall in love with them, so they create a love potion. Usually the potion is applied at the wrong time and hilarity ensues.
As it turns out, there is a real-life equivalent to a fantasy love potion. No, it doesn’t involve Sex Panther cologne. All it takes is a little psychology.
Columnist Mandy Len Catron writes about the concept in this NY Times article. She read about a study conducted 20 years ago in which psychologist Arthur Aron got two complete strangers to fall in love with each other.
Ethical implications aside, he accomplished this through two steps:
The questions have a pretty broad range. I have no idea how Dr. Aron figured out these questions, but I really like them:
Remember, these are questions you’re asking a complete stranger. And they’re capped off by looking them directly in the eyes for 4 minutes. Can you think of the last time you looked someone in the eyes for over 3 seconds?!
So, there are a few ways of thinking about this study. One is the interesting concept that you could fall in love with anyone. I doubt this means literally anyone–like, if you’re not attracted at all to the other person, I doubt that would work. But still, there’s an element of hope in it to me. Maybe we don’t have to find that one special person out of 7 billion. Maybe all we have to do is ask the right questions.
The other way of looking at this is kind of scary: If this thing really works, what if was used to manipulate people? I’m not sure who would do that, but what if Dr. Aron had paired up people who didn’t know what the experiment was about? What if they were already married to other people?
The last thing I thought was: This might make a really neat reality TV show. Sort of like dating naked, but with raw emotions instead of lack of clothes. I’d watch the pilot episode.
What do you think? Is there someone with whom you’d like to test out this modern love potion?